"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010

Monday, January 24, 2011

Attention: Deficit Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the bible for shrinks, attention deficit disorder (ADD) is characterized by some of the following symptoms or behaviors:

• Lack of close attention to details
• Difficulty maintaining attention on tasks
• May not listen when spoken to
• Does not finish workplace assignments
• Cannot persevere on long lasting tasks

You get the idea. A person who jumps around from topic to topic; task to task, without any evidence or follow through or completion.

Obviously no country could last very long if its leadership suffered from ADD. It would just take on too many tasks and activities; not focusing or prioritizing the important ones and the doable ones from the unnecessary and undoable. But it did get us to thinking about the last two years in America. And without doing any research other than to revisit the topics of our essays over the last two years, we put together the following list of activities and plans and programs and commissions that the current leader has started. Here they are:

• Spend hundreds of billions to save jobs
• Spend hundreds of billions to create jobs
• Pass voluminous legislation to “reduce health care costs”
• Make sure everyone has health care insurance coverage
• Offer financial incentives (billions) to get schools to perform
• Talk sense to Iran, N Korea , Cuba and Venezuela
• Cut government waste and eliminate unnecessary programs
• Double exports in five years
• Make banks and financial institutions play fair
• Make banks lend more to small and mid size businesses
• Get the troops out of Iraq
• Increase the troops in Afghanistan and then get them out also
• Spend hundreds of billions to avoid a worse recession
• Borrow and print currency to stimulate the economy
• Prop up and fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (what is going on with this one?)
• Replace carbon fuels with “green” energy sources
• Increase taxes on the high wage earners
• Lower taxes for middle and low wage earners
• Get a plan to lower deficits and debt
• Set up a commission to develop a plan to lower deficits and debt
• Implement plan to lower deficits and debt
• Reduce unneeded military spending

And now, the latest idea/plan/commission…
• Create jobs and boost American competitiveness** (we read that this is his newest menu item or as the French would say, “le soup du jour”)

When a person jumps from idea to idea; from plan to plan; from commission to commission; from speech to speech; from goal to goal but never sticks around to say, “Well, we did complete that one and we’re working on that one and that one probably was never all that good an idea anyway,” what can an observer conclude? What does that person with all the plans and ideas and commissions and speeches but with no follow through and no measurement and no track record of accomplishment tell us about their own behavior? Their modus operandi? Their attention span?

Tomorrow night you will have an opportunity to listen to the man who has presented all of the above plans and ideas and programs. He is going to be talking to you about the state of their accomplishment (we think; we hope.) You will be able to say to yourself, just how are those job saving and job creating programs working? And how are those troop withdrawals moving along? And how are we doing on the way to doubling exports? Are the added dollars being used to motivate education programs producing measurable results that can be documented showing the improved performance of American students? And what did he do with the cost cutting and revenue increasing proposals from the deficit and debt commission? And just how much have health costs per person in the country been reduced? And are new businesses being formed and financed and how many can we point to? After all, he has talked about many, many things and he has borrowed and spent more money in two years than any other leader - elected, appointed or divinely placed, in the history of the world.

Tomorrow he is going to report to you about these plans/ideas/commissions/government activities that all that money has been spent on. You are going to hear exactly, specifically, in detail just what you are getting for the three trillion dollars he has added to the national debt in just 24 months and the seven trillion dollars he has spent in those same two years. (Source: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/2010_08_19_SummaryforWeb.pdf  ) He gets to show you and everyone listening just how much attention he pays to his own plans and ideas. And you get to evaluate his attention span; his attention to results; his attention to details; his attention to being a good steward of your money.

Keep both lists in mind as you listen tomorrow. And revisit the characteristics of a person with attention deficit disorder. This man may or may not suffer from ADD. We don’t know. But there is a striking and long list of incomplete activities and unfinished business. The one thing we can state with certainty is that regardless of his attention to detail and completion, the real deficits, not the ADD stuff out of the manual, are ours and they are measured in the trillions of dollars. Even if he doesn’t have ADD, he sure as all heck has DD or deficit disorder. As a matter of fact, we all have DD now.

If he really wants America to be more competitive, the first thing he needs to do is get himself diagnosed. Two years of dead end plans, programs, commissions and costly government activities followed by another two years of the same are not going to make America more competitive but they sure will make our competitors more competitive.

** Competitiveness is a key component of our basic economic fundamentals of wealth creation, economic growth and jobs. Just as government cannot create jobs it also cannot create competitiveness. All it can do is get out of the way. As long as it stands in the way (read: promotes unions, laws, taxes, special interests, rules, litigation, regulations and every form of burden conceivable to the bureaucratic mind) it will suppress competition and destroy job creation. So, the only road to job growth and a competitive America is to rip up the platform of Mr. Obama’s political party. He does not need to appoint Jeffrey Immelt to accomplish that task. As a matter of fact, the very fact that he did so that tells you all you need to know about his true intentions. We will have much more on this topic later!

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